Pro Tennis: Changing of the Guard Since 2004 Between Men and Women

Alex SandersonCorrespondent IIIFebruary 9, 2012

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18:  Venus Williams (L) and Serena Williams conclude their training session on the Aorangi Practice court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club ahead of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships on June 18, 2011 in London, England. The Championships, which are celebrating their 125th anniversary this year, begin on June 20.   (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

By winning the 2004 Australian Open, Belgian star Justine Henin wrapped up a stretch of 15 grand slams (starting with 2000 Wimbledon) in which either herself, Jennifer Capriati or one of the Williams sisters took home the trophy.

Venus and Serena Williams, along with Henin, appeared to have a stranglehold over the game.

Meanwhile, on the men's side of things, the great Roger Federer had just captured his second grand slam trophy. His two wins joined the likes of Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Pete Sampras, who also had two slam wins each during the same 15 grand slam stretch dominated by the aforementioned women.

The other seven grand slams played in that time were all won by different men, with six of them winning one for the first time in their careers.

The 2004 French Open was a surprising tournament on both sides of the game, as first-time winners Anastasia Myskina and Gaston Gaudio took home the silverware. The results at that tournament have turned out to be a sign of things to come in women's tennis, but an incredible anomaly in the men's game.

From 2004 Wimbledon through the 2012 Australian Open, the current top-three ranked men's players of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have won every major except for two. Federer won 14, Nadal won 10 and Djokovic won five.

Not only have they been dominating with the titles, but the three have been incredibly consistent in reaching grand slam finals. The 2005 Australian Open was the only time in that stretch when none of the three even made a final, and Federer did have a match point against Marat Safin in the semifinals.

Here a few other interesting stats for the big three:

  • Federer and Djokovic have dominated the hard court slams, as one of the two has made every Australian Open and U.S. Open final since 2005 in Australia, yet they only played each other in one final (2007 U.S).
  • One of the three won every single Wimbledon and French Open tournament during the stretch.
  • Federer and Nadal have dominated the clay and grass court slams, as one of the two has made every single French Open and Wimbledon final since 2004 Wimbledon, playing each other in seven of those finals.

Switching over to the women's side, there have been 13 different grand slam champions since the 2004 Wimbledon. Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Justine Henin each won at least three majors, with Serena winning seven.

If Serena had stayed completely healthy and focused throughout like Federer, there probably wouldn't have been as much fluctuation in the game, especially of late.

Nevertheless, the women's game always used to be dominated by a select few, and it's been incredible to see so many players hoisting a grand slam trophy.

The parity in women's tennis has been even crazier in recent history, as the last four slams have gone to a different first-time champion. That's the complete opposite of the men's game, where Nadal and Djokovic have played each other in the last three finals, with Nadal playing Federer for the 2011 French Open title.

After completing her "Serena Slam" at the 2003 Australian Open by defeating her sister Venus in four consecutive slam finals, it seemed like the Williams sisters would dominate women's tennis for quite some time.

During those four slams, there were four different men's champions, showing just how much the game has flipped between the sexes.